My mother would not go out of her room. We, I and my sister, needed to bring her food three times a day and leave it by her door. The plate and utensils are also left there when she is done eating. She would text us if she needs something or would video call us to talk. Her agoraphobia is acting up at this time, and it is really bad.
Sometimes, we hear her talk to herself and then cry. When that happens, we immediately call her therapist, one of our distant cousins, so that she would talk to mom and make her calm down. It pains us that our mother has come to this and that we are so helpless. This pandemic is not helping any of us.
She is not crazy. For those who are not familiar with mental health issues, then you should read up about it before you judge people like us who have some mood disorders. Our mother has a special type of anxiety disorder, and it is called agoraphobia. People with this disorder are fearful of the environment. She would not go out of the house before but was trying to cope with it for the past few years.
The therapist, our cousin, said that her anxiety could have been brought about by her being a battered wife. For almost twenty years, our father had been hitting our mom, and it caused damage to her mental health. When we turned 18, me and my sister, took her out of that house, and we filed a restraining order against him. I always remembered my mom to be a sweet woman and very funny. It came back bit by bit, after a couple of years when we left dad. And now, when she was going steady with her recovery, this pandemic happens and brings her back to negative ten in recovery.
Our mom retreated to her room around early February when she saw the news about Wuhan. She was so sure that a lot of people would get infected because it was a viral disease. Our mother used to teach science for middle school, and well, she was right. As of today, 4,215,274 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the whole world, and 284,672 people have already died. These are a mix of senior citizens, young children, teens, and adults. Some people live with the virus, positive of it, but without the symptoms. Others, even if they had contact with patients who have COVID-19, did not acquire the illness. It is so difficult to determine who will get it, but everyone is just afraid to get it.
We talked to our cousin, the therapist, and asked her what we need to do. She said, as per her expert advice:
- Maintain a routine as if you are still going out of the house. This is imperative so that your body clock will not change. Do your activities during the day, and yes, DO ACTIVITIES like working (if you are lucky to work from home), exercising indoor or in your lawn while maintaining social distancing, reading, learning something new, and more.
- Limit your updates on the news. Get it straight from the experts in COVID-19 like CDC and WHO. Listening to news people as they voice out their concerns will create an intensity in one’s anxiety. This is a fact for our mother.
- You have to cope with living in your home for weeks or months and not being able to move freely. This is for your protection and safety.
Of course, we know about social distancing and handwashing techniques. Our mom is equipped with that as well, but no matter what we do, she still does not want to come out.
After three months of just staying in her room, today, she opened her door. But that was it. We peeked a bit, she waved, and said: “I feel a bit better now.” As for my sister and me, we will take it.